Throughout the year I have posted updates detailing how my big year is progressing, how many potential species are remaining, and the odds of getting each one of them. I still haven't seen a new year bird since November 18 (24 days in a row now, my longest cold streak of the year so far) and I have only 13 full days remaining until I vacate the province until the new year. During those 13 days, I will be busy with Christmas get-togethers and relaxing with friends, family, and of course Laura. Therefore, I hold very little hope that I will add any more year birds!
With that being said, there still are almost 2 weeks for a new bird to show up. What I decided to do, of course, is go through the OBRC data to find some answers!
What I looked for are records of species that I need for my Big Year that were found between the dates of December 12 and December 26. Here is what I came up with:
The only birds which are NOT reviewable by the Ontario Bird Records Committee (the committee reviews the super rare birds in Ontario), which I still need for my year, are as follows: Smith's Longspur (non-reviewable only in northern Ontario), Ruff (non-reviewable only in southern Ontario), and both Ptarmigans (non reviewable in northern Ontario). There has not been a recent record of either Ptarmigan anywhere south than Ontario's ocean coast during that timeframe. There has never been a Smith's Longspur (anywhere in Ontario between December 12 and 26 that I am aware of and the same goes for Ruff (though isn't there an early December record? Maybe Hamilton?).
Therefore, my only hope lies with a different rarity showing up in these next two weeks. Broken down year by year, here are the species that have been seen in Ontario, between the dates of December 12 and December 26. Only species I need for my Big Year count!
Black-throated Gray Warbler - December 14 to January 3
Barn Owl (found dead) - December 17
Slaty-backed Gull - December 24 to December 29
none (though there was a Yellow-billed Loon December 31)
Slaty-backed Gull - December 13 to January 24
Pyrrhuloxia - December 23 to January 1
Gray Flycatcher - December 14 to January 7
Ivory Gull - December 16 to April 6
Bewick's Wren - December 18 to March 4
(There was also a Black-necked Stilt found December 27)
Ivory Gull - December 17 to December 25
Tufted Duck - December 22 to January 1
Ivory Gull - December 23 to December 26
Brambling - December 24 to April 14
But what does it all mean?????
In the last 20 years, there have been 12 individual birds which would be potential year birds, if they had showed up this year instead. I knew these data would not be significant, but one simplistic way to look at would be to say there is a 12/20 or 60% that a potential year bird shows up for me in the next two weeks.
The good news is this: With the exception of the Barn Owl last year, every other one of those birds is one that hung around and would certainly be "chaseable".
What are the chances I get two more birds?? Well, that would have been possible in only 1 out of the past 20 years. Of course, who knows how the rest of the year plays out, but it looks grim that I add 2 new birds this year. At best I can hope for one more. The leading candidates, at least according to the last 20 years, would be Slaty-backed Gull or Ivory Gull. I sure wouldn't mind it if another Pyrrhuloxia shows up.